Protect the Peel


Media Advisory: Peel Watershed Case to be heard by Supreme Court today

Media advisory

First Nations and Conservation Groups Bring Yukon Government to Supreme Court in Fight for the Peel Watershed
Dispute over land use planning process for the vast, unspoiled Peel Watershed

March 20, 2017 (Ottawa) — The Supreme Court of Canada will hear Wednesday from First Nations and conservation groups fighting to protect a vast northern watershed from being carved up by mining, drilling and roads. This is the final step in a long legal fight against the Yukon government, which previously sought to open 71% of the watershed up to industrial development. An independent planning commission had recommended that 80% of the watershed be protected.

The Yukon Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that the Yukon government had breached its Final Agreements with First Nations during the land use planning process for the Peel Watershed. The Yukon Court of Appeal upheld this finding in 2015 but ordered a remedy that set a dangerous precedent for future land use planning in the Yukon and beyond. The appellants (the First Nations of Na Cho Nyäk Dän, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, and Vuntut Gwitchin, along with CPAWS Yukon and the Yukon Conservation Society) are asking that the 2014 ruling be upheld.

The Peel Watershed is the traditional territory of the above Yukon First Nations and the Teetl’it Gwich’in in NWT, for whom the pure rivers and majestic mountains of the Peel Watershed have provided physical and cultural nourishment since time immemorial. It is home to grizzly bears, caribou and other iconic northern species. At 68,000 square kilometres, the Peel is larger than Nova Scotia and 10x larger than Banff National Park. This wild place also contains deposits of oil, gas, coal, uranium and other minerals and is under threat from industrial development.

Water Ceremony & Welcome
Wednesday, March 22
6:30 a.m. ET: Lighting of sacred fire, Victoria Island
7 a.m. ET: Welcome and Water Ceremony, steps of Supreme Court (301 Wellington St.)

Supreme Court Hearing
When: Wednesday, March 22, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET
Where: Supreme Court of Canada, 301 Wellington St., Ottawa
Live webcast: 

Press Conference
When: Wednesday, March 22, 1:30 p.m. ET
Where: Charles Lynch, Parliament Hill

Thomas Berger, renowned Indigenous rights lawyer

Chief Roberta Joseph, Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation
Chief Simon Mervyn, First Nation of Na Cho Nyäk Dän
Chief Bruce Charlie, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
Chris Rider, Executive Director, CPAWS Yukon
Christina Macdonald, Executive Director, the Yukon Conservation Society

Live feed of press conference will be available on Facebook.

Professional photographs will be uploaded throughout the day to this Dropbox link, where legal documents and background resources are also available.

The Supreme Court of Canada website has a brief summary of the case and the hearing can be viewed live online (click 'Live' beside the 2017-03-22 hearing, First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, et al. v. Government of Yukon (Yukon Territory)). Follow @ProtectPeel on Twitter for a live feed from the SCC hearing.



Media contacts:

Heather Badenoch,, 613-859-8232
Julia Duchesne,, 250-507-1453

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CPAWS Yukon Chapter
506 Steele St. 
Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2C9
(867) 393-8080

Yukon Conservation Society
302 Hawkins Street
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 1X6
(867) 668-5678